American Patriotic 11

John Selmar Ness

July 16, 1920 ~ November 29, 2021 (age 101)


John was born in Choteau, Montana to Selmar and Margaret Ness on July 16, 1920. He passed away November 29, 2021. He was 101 years old.

When John was very young his mother left the family. Because Selmar traveled on construction, John lived with his Grandparents in Fairfield, MT. After his father remarried, he went to live with them in Blackfoot, ID.  The strained relationship with his stepmother required John to grow up way before his time.  The summer after 6th grade he jumped a train and hitchhiked his way to his mothers in Montana arriving in the night. Not knowing her very well and afraid to wake her, he slept in a shed till morning. From there he went to his Grandparents in Fairfield where he worked for the summer. He hitchhiked his way back to Blackfoot to begin school in the fall. He never knew if anyone had ever looked for him.

John lived on his own in high school. One year he worked for a dairy delivering milk and lived in an abandoned building on car seats he put together for a bed. He washed his clothes in a sink at the dairy. Another year he worked part time as a fireman and lived for $10.00 a month at the fire station. He allowed himself ½ box of cornflakes and a quart of milk a day. In spite of all the challenges, he graduated from Blackfoot High School in 1940.

John married Doris Story in 1941 and they had one son Bruce. They later divorced.

After high school John left Idaho and worked for Lockheed Aircraft in Santa Barbara, CA from 1941 to 1944. World War II was going on and John felt an obligation to enlist in the Navy where he became a Submarine Radio operator stationed at Pearl Harbor. By the time he received his Sub assignment the war ended, and he was greatly disappointed.  

John returned to Blackfoot to start working with his father in construction and began his lifelong love of operating a dragline.  

John married Edith Patrick in 1947 and to this union were born 4 children: Nicki, Steve, Keralee (Kerri) and Tony.  They were later divorced.

John's career in the 50’s included working construction, owner operator of a Utoco Service Station and Prudential Insurance Agent in Othello, WA. John moved his family to Emmett in 1960 where he worked as City Clerk before purchasing the Gem County Disposal business. He later sold that business to return to his love of construction and owning and operating a dragline. John retired the first time at age 80 only to return to work at age 84 for another 4 years.

John married Pauline Kroush in 1986 and they enjoyed life to the fullest until her passing earlier this year.

John loved life every day.  He was an honest, kind, fun loving and hardworking man. With an infectious laugh his glass was always half full.  He was an inspiration to many as he did his daily pushups even at age 100. He will be truly missed.

John was preceded in death by his parents, wife Pauline, and children Bruce, Nicki, and Steve. He is survived by children Kerri (Howard) Sutton of Midvale, son Tony Ness of Emmett, and daughter-in-law Martha Ness of Layton, UT., Grandchildren Dusty and Darin (Andrea) Sutton of Midvale, Janet (Jim) Martin of Phoenix, AZ, and Christine Ness of San Diego, CA along with 8 Great-grandchildren, Pauline's children, Teresa Andrew, Lisa Surles and Del Kroush and 5 Grandchildren.

A celebration of Johns life will be held Dec. 15th at 10:00 AM at Edgewood Spring Creek, 1255 Allen Ave., Fruitland, ID.

The family would like to thank the staff of Doctors Hospice and staff at Edgewood Assisted Living that cared for John during his last chapter. You were all dear to him. Donations can be made in John's name to Edgewood Scholarship Fund in Fruitland.

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